Eating healthy foods on a tight budget can be challenging. While your intentions are good, foods that are full of nutrients tend to be expensive – making cheap junk foods all the more tempting!
Whether it be a restaurant meal, an on-the-go snack, or your entire weekly shop – it all adds up! However, there are plenty of foods you can purchase that both are healthy and affordable. You just need to know where to find them.
Finding Healthy Foods: Where to Start
With finding healthy foods, planning is key. By spending more time planning, you will spend less money in the long-run. This includes all aspects of your meals, including your budget, ingredients and where to buy.
Set Your Budget
To get an idea of what you can afford, you need to take a deep dive into your finances and set a realistic budget.
This should cover your food spend for each day, week or month depending on your personal preference.
You can break it down even further and consider how much you want to spend for each meal. Usually, breakfast and lunch can be done cheaply. While dinner is often the most costly with it being a more substantial meal. Therefore, you should allocate a bigger chunk of your spend towards this.
By setting a budget, you will have a better idea of what healthy foods you can afford. Don’t worry if you need to tweak your budget slightly here and there. A way around this is by having an initial spend cap, then a secondary spend cap that you don’t mind hitting every now and then.
Research Cheap Meal Ideas
If you’re not sure which healthy foods to stock up on, use your five-a-day and daily recommended protein intake as a guideline. This includes five portions of fruit and vegetables (1). Plus a protein intake of 45g for women, and 55g for men (2). This way, you know you’ll be achieving a healthy, balanced diet.
With these foods in mind, start researching cheap breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas online. You can note recipes you like that are within your budget, to then plan for each day. Plus, you can better plan portion sizes and leftovers, and how you can use these more efficiently for your next meal.
If you have certain fitness goals in mind, then consider what cheap healthy foods will help you achieve this. For example, if you want to up your carbs, then include a bag of potatoes on your food shop list (3). If you want to eat nutrient-dense food, add kale (4). To increase your protein intake, try biltong, which boasts a generous 13g of protein and only 75 kcals per pack.
Find Out Where to Buy
Once you have your budget and meal ideas planned, the next step is finding out where to buy these items cheaply.
As all supermarkets stock the same healthy foods, you can go online and compare prices. Luckily, after doing this once, you will know in future where to go for your food shop.
If you don’t want to go to a supermarket, there are other alternatives. For example, you can purchase boxes of misshapen veg that would otherwise go to waste, at a cheaper price compared to supermarkets.
Once you have completed your research, you will have a better idea of how to shop cheaply and healthily in the future. Helping you meet your goals in saving money and feeling better overall.
Top Tips for Finding Cheap Healthy Foods
While doing your research, you may have found a couple of hacks for finding cheap healthy foods. If you’re still looking for inspiration, here are some of our top tips:
Buying in Bulk
When you buy in bulk, you get more for less. While it may feel like you’re spending more, you are actually saving more than you would by buying in lesser quantities, more often. Also, buying in bulk means you can better plan your meals for the week ahead.
For example: if you buy a multipack of key ingredients like onions, you can use these across your meals for the entire week. Even if you see an item in bulk that is about to go out of date, you can cook a batch meal and freeze the rest for a later date. This not only saves you money and time, but it helps to reduce food waste.
There are also many healthy snacks that can be bought in bulk, like Stript Snacks biltong. It comes in two tasty flavours, Red Chilli and Cracked Black Pepper, in handy packs of 10. This means you can save money, and get your much-needed boost of protein, whether you enjoy it on its own or in a recipe.
Growing Your Own
If you are adamant about keeping your costs down for the long-term, you can opt to grow your own fruit and veg. This can be done at an allotment plot, or in your own greenhouse in the back garden. This can also make a great hobby, plus you will feel a great deal of satisfaction eating your own homegrown food.
Searching for Deals
By taking a little time each week to search the latest deals, you can save even more money on your healthy foods. To ensure you’re the first to know, sign up for your favourite supermarket’s email subscription. Or, you can register with specialist sites, like Healthy Supplies, or even discount specific sites like Groupon to be alerted of their latest deals on healthy foods.
While it can be difficult to stay healthy and save money, planning is key to ensure you keep costs low and enjoy the many benefits of healthy eating.